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Garlands 396-400

A 396th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Cyril Warren , active in the 1950s, composed songs which we may regard as of the ballad type. So Little Time (1956), probably the best known of them,Paddy Flynn's Wedding (1956), My Fond Love (1957) and (1957). He also published instrumental music too, like the Three Miniatures for piano solo.

George Windeatt was best known as a conductor in the British light music theatre, notably in Me and My Girl (by Noel Gay, 1957, remembered for The Lambeth Walk) and Good Night Vienna (stage version, 1946). The only Windeatt composition I have found so far is May's Song from Masque of the Months (also 1946).

Lastly for a few Victorian worthies. P P Bliss composed songs like When Sparrows Build and glees including Pro Phundo Basso (!), one Grenville wrote the Babiole Lancers and other dance music and J Heeker penned the Clasping Hands waltz and compiled medleys like the Welsh Gems (Victorian dance music yields many intriguing titles and I have been trying to find the composer of Gorilla Quadrilles). Charles Dupee Blake, born in 1849, was responsible for a Grand March , the galop Viecolo and the march Wave of the Ocean. And song composer Frederick Root made hay with ballads like the "imitation song", The Burlesque Band, The Hazel Doll, Just Before the Battle Mother, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp and The Vacant Chair and, most famously, the Laughing Chorus.

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003

A 397th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I start with a few basically orchestral writers. From the 1940s John Crowther, who was presumably a Yorkshireman because his compositions included an Askrigg Concerto and, for string orchestra, a Yorkshire Suite; he played in the BBC Theatre Orchestra. Also from the forties, John Bass was particularly noted for his Vienna Sketches (1943): his titles also included Scherzo piquant (also 1943) and Viennese Porcelain. From around the same period, Harold Popple's output included a waltz, Hilarity. And among "mood music" producers we may point to Tom Wyler (Lovely Day and Happy Time) and Robert Haymes ( Curtain Theme).

More recently there are Gregory Pullen for his concert overture Sir Bob and Sir Ted, Barry Bryant for a Miniature Suite and Richard Telford for his mood miniature Cross Roads.

Finally to Victorian times and to two Welsh harpist brothers: John Thomas (d. 1913), harpist to Queen Victoria, penned for harp a large number of Variations on traditional tunes mainly Welsh ones, and a number of original compositions, among them Autumn,L'Esperance, Le Soir and Echoes of a Waterfall. His brother Thomas Thomas who was known professionally as Aptommas, completed harp medleys, notably of Welsh and Scots tunes.

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003

A 398th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I begin with Henry George Farmer (1882-1965), born in Ireland, who is best remembered as an historical scholar on music, in the field of military music. Also a pianist he conducted in theatres and founded and conducted the Glasgow Symphony Orchestra (1919-43). He composed too; a ballet, other theatre music, several overtures, suites for piano By Brosna's Banks and From The Slieve Bloom and the Empress Quadrille, published for piano solo.

Talking of piano solos, there are a number of composers who published one or two titles in that area which we can reasonably reckon as light music: Ernestine Birch for The Milkmaid's Delight: Earnest Walter Chapman, born in 1914, who worked for Booseys 1934-47, for Before Spring; Chris Conway for the waltz The Blue Lamp (did this have some connection with the Police?);Cyril Stanley Christopher, born in 1897, teacher and organist for the Concert Preludes (individually titled, Toccatina,Visions and the Dance Rhapsody) among other more serious works for organ, chamber ensemble and chorus; andMuriel Davidson, whose Five Pieces, almost certainly designed for young players, were Once Upon A Time, First Day of the Holiday, Hush-a-Bye, The Fair and Summer Days.

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003

A 399th Garland of British Light Music Composers

James Ching , born in 1900, was educated at Queens College Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music, and was a pianist and - perhaps primarily - a musical educationist. Active until at least the 1960s, he brought out many instructional works and editions of the classics with young performers in mind. His own compositions were similarly designed for young players and included The Book of Dogs, thirteen short pieces with titles like The Bloodhound Puppies, Bulldogs' Music, Pekingese, St Bernard and The Greyhound and In Praise of Trees (1929).

Leslie Clair , whose real name was Leslie J Solley, is effectively a one work man, his Dance of the Blue Marionettes earning considerable popularity when it was published by Chappell in the mid 20th century. I know of no other Clair titles.

I have not yet been able to determine whether W Aletter (is that his real name?) was British or not. Best known of his compositions were the minuet Little Grandmother and the charming "intermezzo rococo" Rendez-Vous (1894) which remained popular with light orchestras here into the mid 20th century. But Aletter was very prolific and I have traced the following in piano versions: At a Cricket's Wedding,Berceuse and Musette, the valse espagnole Chochata, Marche des Marionettes, the "humorous intermezzo" Pulcinello, Golden Rain, Autumn, L'Etoile du Soir, Golden Dreams and the march, Ronde Chinoise. This is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg as Ronde Chinoise is Op. 333!

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003

A 400th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Our starting point is Hugo Felix (1866-1934), theatre conductor and composer, who was born in Austria, had his first musicals, among themMadame Sherry produced in Europe and ended his career in the United States but in between conducted and composed for the London stage:Les Merveilleuses (1906), The Antelope (1908, a flop but its march The Little Drummer achieved publication here) and The Pearl Girl (1913-14: with Harold Talbot managed 254 performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre). He also composed orchestral miniatures like Elfin Dance, Marionettes and Mirage, but I do not know if these were for the British market.

Now for another little group of composers for pianists, often young ones. Cecil Gann (Valse Lorraine), Peter Ginette (Dancing Daffodils), Richard Haywood (An Ulster Love Song); Vera James (suite, In Dancing Mood - Hornpipe, The Polka-Waltz and Rondino - published in 1948); Reginald Jevons (Four Perky Pieces); and Ruby Holland, who published Three Impressions (Sprite, Once Upon a Time,Laughter), Kensington Gardens (ten pieces, Wendy and Peter being the seventh), Five Little Pieces andEleven Pieces, all based on the Cinderella story. W B Jones composed various piano pieces, all based on Welsh folk tunes, Nocturne (1934), Berceuse on Suo Gan and Prelude and Welsh Rustic Dance.

Ann Griffiths , also Welsh, had an excellent career as a harpist, ended by injury. She also, during the 1970s published, for harp, settings of Welsh folk tunes, including the fantasies on Sweet But Simple Gwennie and What is Summer to Me? (both 1973), also instrumental works for students including Lessons and The Young Harpist.

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003


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